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Fossil Fuels Critical to Prosperity NIPCC Report Shows

December 21, 2018

Climate Change Weekly #308

The use of fossil fuels has more than doubled human lifespans, vastly improved human health, led to a steep decrease in poverty, and a huge increase in global food supplies over the past century. That being said, their ongoing use is crucial to continued progress in these areas and many more, according to a new report from the Non-Governmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), Climate Change Reconsidered II: Fossil Fuels (CCRIIFF).

On December 4, CCRIIFF was released at a policy briefing hosted by The Heartland Institute in Katowice, Poland during the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Two of CCRIIFF’s authors, Dennis Avery, director of the Center for Global Food Issues and a senior fellow with The Heartland Institute, and Craig Idso, Ph.D., founder and chairman of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change (CSCDGC), presented their findings at the event.

NIPCC, a joint project of CSCDGC, The Heartland Institute, and the Science and Environmental Policy Project, is composed of an international panel more than 100 scientists and scholars to provide a comprehensive assessment of the science and economics of global warming, not directed or funded by government.

CCRIIFF, the fifth volume in the Climate Change Reconsidered Series, was assembled by four lead authors, with contributions from more than a dozen co-authors and 100 peer reviewers. The more than 700-page report consists of eight chapters, the first two providing a foundation in environmental economics and climate science that serves to inform the remaining chapters. These chapters detail how the use of fossil fuels has contributed to human prosperity, improved human health and welfare, and even benefited the environment.

Idso’s presentation in Poland made the case the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a political, not a scientific body, promoting climate alarmism. Its pronouncements on climate science are not to be trusted, said Idso.

“Climate alarmism … is championed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change … a political body of the United Nations,” Idso said. “Given what is compiled in [the NIPCC] reports and the thousands of peer reviewed article cited therein, I can tell you with complete confidence there is absolutely no observational evidence that provides any compelling support for the contention there is something unusual, unnatural or unprecedented about earth’s current warmth.”

Citing thousands of studies and using hundreds of graphics, “fossil fuels deliver affordable, plentiful, and reliable energy that is closely associated with key measures of human development and human welfare,” says the report. “There is a strong positive relationship between low energy prices and economic prosperity. Economic prosperity in turn is crucial to human health and welfare.”

Fossil fuels supply 81 percent of global primary energy and 78 percent of U.S. primary energy. As fossil fuel use has grown, human welfare has increased.

“According to the U.S. Census Bureau (2016), the world average age of death has increased by 35 years since 1970, with declines in death rates in all age groups, including those aged 60 and older,” the report states.

As access to fossil fuels has expanded beyond developed countries to developing countries, the report cites one study with conservatively estimated between 1970 and 2006:

“Using the official $1/day line [the United Nations’ definition of poverty], we estimate that world poverty rates have fallen by 80 percent [from] 1970 to … 2006. The corresponding total number of poor has fallen from 403 million in 1970 to 152 million in 2006 … We find that various measures … of global welfare increased by somewhere between 128 percent and 145 percent.”

The report shows fossil fuels are the foundation of modern agriculture. Fossil fuels power the tractors and trucks used to plant and harvest crops and deliver them to market; they serve as the feed stock for the chemical pesticides and fertilizers used to grow ever greater amounts of food on increasingly less land; and they power the refrigeration and dry storage units that allow crops to be safely stored for long periods of time. Ultimately, fossil fuels allow the world’s farmers to feed the planet’s growing population, even as vast amounts of farmland are being reclaimed by forests and grasslands serving as valuable habitat for wildlife.

Avery’s presentation at The Heartland Institute’s climate conference in Poland explored this theme. Avery documented how warmer climate periods have historically nurtured greater global crop production with resulting benefits for human health and welfare. Climate change has only been a negative factor on human health and welfare when temperatures have declined on average, either regionally or globally.

In contrast to IPCC’s September 2018 report that claimed the world must meet net zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 to avoid severe climate disruptions, CCRIIFF concludes cutting fossil fuel use by the amount required would cause far more harm than good.

CCRIIFF estimates reducing greenhouse gases to 90 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, a target 10 percent less severe than IPCC called for, would reduce world GDP by 96 percent, decreasing per-capita global income to the level it was in the United States and Western Europe in about 1820 or 1830.

The evidence human fossil fuel use is causing dangerous warming is “tenuous” at best, CCRIIFF shows. By comparison, the benefits from the use of fossil fuels are evident. As a result, it would be dangerous for governments to force the world to dramatically decrease the use of fossil fuels.

  • H. Sterling Burnett

SOURCES: Non-Governmental International Panel on Climate Change; The Heartland Institute  


IN THIS ISSUE …

East Antarctic melting from belowNew study shows growth incompatible with climate goalsGlobal carbon dioxide emissions jumped in 2018


EAST ANTARCTIC MELTING FROM BELOW

A new study published in the journal Scientific Reports describes a large source of geothermal heat beneath East Antarctica that climate models have not accounted for in their projections of Antarctic ice loss and accumulation.

Using radar able to penetrate approximately two miles below Antarctica’s surface, the research team made up of members from the British Antarctic Survey, the Norwegian Polar Institute, Denmark’s National Space Institute, the Grantham Institute at the Imperial College Department of Earth Science and Engineering, report some areas in in East Antarctica appear to be melting beneath the ice. The team speculates radioactive rocks and hot water spurting from inside Earth’s crust is contributing to the subsurface melting.

The researchers did not find that the subsurface melting was contributing to significant ice loss, but they warn this could change if the rate of melting increases or the subsurface lakes melting is creating hastens the slide of surface ice into the sea.

“The process of melting we observe has probably been going on for thousands or maybe even millions of years and isn’t directly contributing to ice sheet change,” lead researcher Tom Jordan, told Science Alert. “Our results were quite unexpected, as many people thought this region of Antarctica was made of ancient and cold rocks, which had little impact on the ice sheet above.

“We show that even in the ancient continental interior, the underlying geology can have a significant impact on the ice,” Jordan said.

SOURCE: Science Alert; Scientific Reports


NEW STUDY SHOWS GROWTH INCOMPATIBLE WITH CLIMATE GOALS

A new report from the Institute for New Economic Thinking confirms what I and others have said for years: You can’t realistically expand the economy without the use of fossil fuels. As this study shows, to cut carbon emissions by the amount and within the timeframe the IPCC claims is necessary to prevent catastrophic climate change, you must end capitalism. Having governments direct the economy would create negative growth (reversing current levels of prosperity) or at least freeze the economy at its present level of development—preventing future growth until some point in the unforeseeable future.

The study’s authors write:

All IPCC (2018) pathways to restrict future global warming to 1.5 [degrees Celsius] (and well below an already dangerous 2 9 [degrees Celsius]) involve radical cuts in global carbon emissions. Such decarbonization, while being technically feasible, may impose a ‘limit’ or ‘planetary boundary’ to growth … that radical de-carbonization will not be possible while increasing the size of the economy.

[T]o bring about the ‘zero-carbon’ revolution, we first need a political revolution … [W]e have reached a fork in the road and have to choose. One path is that we continue to ‘green’-grow our economies in close to ‘business-as-usual’ ways, but that implies adapting to mean global temperature increases of 3 [degrees Celsuis] and possibly more already by 2100 and to ‘Hothouse Earth’ thereafter. The other path that should lead us to a ‘Stabilized Earth’ (Steffen et al. 2018), is technically feasible according to Earth Systems and climate and energy scientists (Grubb 2014; Millar et al. 2017; Steffen et al. 2018; IPCC 2018). The real barrier is the present fossil fuel based socioeconomic system (aka ‘fossil-fuel capitalism’) ….

[A] deep overhaul of energy systems and production and consumption structures cannot be done through small incremental steps, but requires disruptive system-wide re-engineering … requir[ing] international cooperation in emission reduction, mission-oriented investment in the renewable energy transition, technology development and dissemination, and the sharing of the global burden of fighting global warming, … [including] ‘technology-forcing’ performance standard-setting and mission-oriented public strategies, … [and] ‘beneficial constraints’ … [on] ‘the rational pursuit of economic gain ….”

In the end, this study shows “rational individualism[’s]” pursuit of continuous economic progress for present and future generations must be curbed to prevent climate change. To their credit, the authors of this study, climate alarmists both, are honest about what it would truly take to prevent what they argue is dangerous human-caused climate change: an end to capitalism, replaced by government directed energy use, commercial activity, and trading relations. This is what is necessary to save society, humanity, and nature from, in their words, “the self-destruction of capitalism.”

SOURCE: Institute for New Economic Thinking;


GLOBAL CARBON DIOXIDE EMISSIONS JUMPED IN 2018

Despite the IPCC’s numerous reports noting that the world must drastically reduce carbon dioxide emissions to prevent a climate catastrophe, and commitments made by almost all nations on earth to reduced such emissions per the 2015 Paris climate agreement (and multiple agreements going back to 1992 before that), estimates are global carbon dioxide emissions grew dramatically in 2018, and are expected to hit record high levels.

Worldwide, increased fossil fuel use is on a pace to increase global carbon dioxide emissions by 2.7 percent in 2018 compared with 2017.

China and India led the increase in carbon dioxide emissions. At year’s end, India’s carbon dioxide emissions will have grown 6.3 percent from 2017 levels, while China’s carbon dioxide emissions rose 4.7 percent year over year. Just the growth in emissions from China and India more than offset a modest decline in emissions in the European Union and a larger decline in the United States, which announced it was pulling out of the Paris climate agreement in 2017.

SOURCE: Science New

Author
H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D. is a Heartland senior fellow on environmental policy and the managing editor of Environment & Climate News.
hsburnett@heartland.org

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